PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Just like for people, frigid temperatures can be deadly for cats and dogs.

In Rhode Island, a pet owner can be fined for leaving an animal out in the freezing cold unless they have been provided with proper shelter.

However, even if pets have proper protection, some breeds don’t adapt well to the cold.

Remember: if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.

Here are some tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association to help keep your pets safe:

Dogs and cats

  • Never let them off the leash on snow or ice, since they can lose scent and easily get lost.
    • More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours is always wearing ID tags.
  • Thoroughly wipe off their legs and stomach when they come in out of the sleet, snow or ice.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, since a longer coat will provide more warmth.
  • When you bathe your dog, be sure to completely dry them before taking them out for a walk.
  • Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting them a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train them inside.
  • Keep your cat inside. When outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.

Heading outside?

  • Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase their supply of food, particularly protein, to keep them — and their fur — in tip-top shape.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

Where to sleep

  • Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt.
    • If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

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